Hundreds of parents prosecuted over children’s truancy
HUNDREDS of parents are being prosecuted for their children's truancy each year, with experts warning mums and dads are too busy bingeing on Netflix to ensure their kids attend school.
There have been nearly 1800 truancy court cases in the past four years following a NSW Department of Education crackdown on poor school attendance.
Last year alone, there were 416 matters in the children's and local courts, of which 159 were listed as ongoing.
More than 30 parents were fined and a further six were given good behaviour bonds as a "last resort".
However, 124 families had their matters withdrawn or dismissed because the child started turning up to school or a defence such as illness was established. The figure is up from 2016, when there were 311 court matters, including 27 parents fined.
Margaret Bell, CEO of behavioural change management centre The Learning Ground at Mount Druitt, said young parents in the area were too absorbed in technology or watching Netflix to talk with their children about school.
"I think parents are using the devices themselves, the other thing that precludes conversations between generations is Netflix," she said.
"So many parents don't have the opportunity to work but they do block out their concerns by using Netflix."
Blacktown Youth Services Association manager Natalie Chiappazzo said there was no face-to-face communication in some families because both the child and the adult were consumed by technology including streaming services such as Netflix.
"Definitely I feel like technology is at our fingertips and it is a distraction but also it is about young people (being) distracted with that as well," Ms Chiappazzo said.
She said she knew of some mums who were happy for their children not to go to school because they wanted to be seen as "cool" by their kids.
NSW Secondary Principals' Council President Craig Petersen said the increase in truancy was due to a growing number of disobedient children who did not respect authority.
"Part of the issue is where kids aren't doing what their mum and dad tell them and they don't want to go to school and they are being disrespectful of the parents and, in some cases, the parents are giving up," Mr Petersen said.
"There is a phenomenon we're noticing over the last five to 10 years where parents feel that they have to be their children's friend first and foremost, whereas they actually need to be the parent." A NSW Department of Education spokesman said schools used a range of strategies to resolve non-attendance issues.
But when this did not work they escalated the matter to a program aimed at providing support to the students, parents and schools to try to make kids attend class.
"Where (this is) unsuccessful in resolving the attendance concerns, and the parents have not meaningfully engaged with the plan, the matter is referred for consideration of legal action," the spokesman said.